“Each of us knows that to maintain health it is necessary to consume enough vitamins and minerals. But few people can answer the question of how vitamins differ from minerals, what functions each of them has, and what foods are the best sources of them. We will address each of these issues in this article.
How are vitamins different from minerals?
Vitamins are organic substances produced by a plant or animal that humans need in small amounts. Apart from vitamin D, everything else cannot be synthesized. They can only be obtained from food, so they are considered essential.
Minerals are inorganic elements derived from rocks, soil, or water. In addition, they can enter the diet through a plant that has absorbed a mineral from the environment, or through an animal that has eaten such a plant. There are many minerals, but only a few are necessary for health.
This means that minerals can easily enter the body through plants, fish, animals, and ingested liquids. With vitamins, the situation is different: it is more difficult to transfer them to the body, because cooking, storage and simple exposure to air can inactivate these fragile compounds.
Another difference is that vitamins have a complex structure. It can be destroyed by heat, air or acid. In turn, minerals are simpler elements that retain their chemical structure.
How do vitamins and minerals interact?
Despite all the differences, vitamins and minerals often work together. Here are some examples:
vitamin D allows the body to extract calcium from food; iron is absorbed with the help of vitamin C. However, the interaction of microelements is not always positive. Too much vitamin C can block the body’s ability to absorb the essential mineral copper.
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functions of minerals
Minerals perform many functions in the human body. This is what they do:
they are part of various tissues, for example, calcium and phosphorus are the material for healthy bones and teeth; they form systems that maintain a constant acidity of body fluids; they are part of hormones and enzymes, affecting metabolism; provide cell contractility.
How are micronutrients different from macronutrients?
Minerals are divided into basic minerals and trace elements. It depends on how much the body needs from each of them. Additionally, some minerals are also classified as antioxidants. For example, the trace element selenium is also an antioxidant. It is specially isolated together with vitamins E and C.
The importance of minerals for human health
Macronutrients that are higher in the human body than micronutrients include:
sodium – necessary to maintain the acid-base balance, the appearance of nerve impulses, the formation of blood plasma pressure;
chlorine – helps in the formation of hydrochloric acid from gastric juice;
potassium – participates in metabolism, muscle excitability;
calcium – in combination with vitamin D, it plays an important role in the development, maintenance and restoration of bone tissue, regulates muscle contraction, nerve function and normal blood coagulation. Because low bone mineral density increases the risk of fractures, people who limit their intake of animal products are at particular risk;
match – it is part of bone tissue, cell membranes and enzymes;
magnesium – participates in the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, is very important for nervous, muscular, cardiac, immune and hormonal functions;
sulfur – It is part of some enzymes, affects the health of bones, cartilage, skin and nails.
There are many more, but the most important for a person are:
iron – helps oxygen move throughout the body, is involved in energy production and the normal functioning of the nervous, behavioral and immune systems;
copper – the main function is to participate in redox reactions that are important for the activity of a number of enzymes;
zinc Essential for maintaining healthy muscles and immune function. Its deficiency can lead to impaired cardiorespiratory function, reduced strength and muscular endurance;
manganese – stimulates growth processes, affects the functioning of the sexual glands, participates in the regulation of carbohydrate and fat metabolism;
iodine – plays an important role in active thyroid hormones, and its deficiency leads to a decrease in the amount of hormones and can affect cognitive impairment.
Fluorine, cobalt, nickel and silicon are also of great importance.
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The best sources of minerals
In order for the body to receive all the necessary vitamins and minerals, it is necessary to carry out a complete diet, which must include products of both animal and plant origin. The list of macronutrient sources is as follows:
sodium, chlorine: salt;
potassium: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains;
calcium: dairy products, cheeses, nuts, grains;
match: seeds, nuts, cheese, meat, eggs;
magnesium: Nuts, soybeans, spinach, halibut, wheat bran;
sulfur: eggs, birds, fish.
To ensure a normal amount of trace elements, you must use:
iron: meat, poultry, vegetables, whole grains;
copper: seafood, cereals, nuts;
zinc: oysters, meats, poultry, hard cheeses, nuts;
manganese: whole grains, nuts, tea;
iodine: iodized table salt, seaweed, fish.
To maintain the health of the brain, muscles, bones, nerves, skin, circulation, and immune system, the body requires a constant supply of many different substances. A person needs a small amount of minerals, but the inability to obtain even these small concentrations can affect well-being.
Deficiency, in which a lack of a nutrient leads directly to a specific disease, is now rare. But it is important to understand that about 30 vitamins and minerals the body cannot produce in sufficient quantities on its own. That is why it is so important to be able to do your diet.
To ensure that your nutritional needs are met, simply eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, nuts, and oils. In other words, your goal should be to meet your body’s needs through food, not supplements and vitamins.
We tell you what to include in the menu to keep fit, be healthy, below:
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